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First Read’s Morning Clips: Biden heads to Tennessee



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MIDTERM MADNESS: Biden heads to Tennessee

Democratic mayors are looking for openings in the 2020 presidential primary race, The Hill reports.

Ohio governor and 2016 GOP candidate John Kasich told CNN he is “unlikely” to challenge Trump as an independent in 2020.

CT-5: The survivor of a deadly home invasion is considering a congressional run to replace outgoing Rep. Elizabeth Esty, the Hartford Courant reports.

FL-22: Conservative blogger and congressional candidate Javier Manjarres accused Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch of “exploiting” the victims of the Parkland shooting.

NV-SEN: Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Las Vegas to raise cash for GOP Sen. Dean Heller, Politico reports.

OH-SEN: Trump’s moves on tariffs are putting GOP Senate candidate Jim Renacci in a tough sport as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown embraces the strategy, the Washington Post reports.

TN-SEN: Former Vice President Joe Biden will fundraise for Tennessee Senate candidate Phil Bredesen next week.

WV-SEN: Republican Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey drops West Virginia mountains on the U.S. Capitol in a new ad.

TRUMP AGENDA: Staying in Syria – for now

with his national security team on Tuesday to keep U.S. troops in Syria for an undetermined period of time with the goal of defeating ISIS, a senior administration official said Wednesday.”

Trump signed a proclamation Wednesday to send the National Guard to the southern border.

From NBC’s Lee, Kube and Edelman: “President Donald Trump reluctantly agreed in a meeting

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has taken the unusual step of questioning Russian oligarchs who traveled into the US,” CNN reports.

The White House is trying to tamp down fears of a trade war with China.

Scott Pruitt and his allies are waging a campaign to save the embattled EPA head’s job,Politico reports.

And the EPA’s principal deputy general counsel said he lacked key facts when evaluating Pruitt’s lease.

“An emboldened President Trump is discovering that the policies he once described as easy fixes for the nation are a lot more complicated in reality,” the Washington Post reports.

From the AP: “Anticipating an unpredictable president’s next moves, U.S. officials have started actively planning for the likelihood that Donald Trump will announce next month that the U.S. is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.”

From Politico: Cost-cutting former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had grand ambitions for a department ‘redesign,’ but its clearest impact is a huge bill for consultants, some of whom charged more than $300 an hour.

The Hill reports Chief of Staff John Kelly has lost influence in the West Wing.

The New York Times looks at how the “caravan” story exploded from the conservative media to the top of Trump’s consciousness.

“Trump’s top infrastructure adviser is leaving the administration,”NBC’s Adam Edelman and Hallie Jackson report.

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CEOs discuss pulling donations, additional public statements to fight voting bills



More than 120 CEOs, business leaders, attorneys and experts came together on Saturday afternoon to discuss further action against voting legislation nationwide, call attendees told NBC News.

The group discussed numerous options for pushing back on the GOP-led efforts to restrict access to the ballot box including pulling donations, refusing to relocate business or jobs to states that pass restrictive measures, and moving events, said one of the call’s organizers, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld.

“It was incredibly concrete,” he told NBC News.

The meeting was first reported Sunday by The Wall Street Journal.

A wide variety of industries were represented on the call: financial, pharmaceutical, travel, technology, retail, and transportation. Notable attendees included Brad Karp of the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Mellody Hobson of Ariel Investments, Chip Bergh of Levi Strauss and Arthur Blank, Home Depot co-founder and owner of the Atlanta Falcons.

Representatives of AMC Theaters and three major airlines were also in attendance.

Major corporations’ recent foray into the election policy debate comes as Republicans across the country work to advance hundreds of restrictions, changes that voting rights advocates and civil rights groups argue would disproportionately affect voters of color. Earlier this month, several major corporations spoke out against a restrictive new law in Georgia and pending legislation in Texas, while Major League Baseball announced it would move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest of the state’s law.

Republicans immediately pushed back.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that it is “stupid” for corporations to take stances on divisive political issues, before warning corporate America to “stay out of politics.” (He softened his stance a day later, saying, “I didn’t say that very artfully yesterday. They’re certainly entitled to be involved in politics. They are. My principal complaint is they didn’t read the darn bill,” referring to Georgia’s recently enacted law.)

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, called the corporate response “nonsense,” and said American Airlines’ CEO should “go away” after the airline denounced a GOP-sponsored bill under consideration in the state where it is headquartered. Republican lawmakers in Texas advanced another restrictive voting bill out of the state House Thursday.

Sonnenfeld said he and other organizers invited more than 120 CEOs and hoped a dozen would join. Ninety turned out with just 48 hours’ notice — with a few calling in from Augusta, Georgia, where the Masters Tournament was underway — for the 2 p.m. ET call Saturday. Organizers left the Zoom room open after they wrapped up at 3:10 p.m., because attendees were still active in the chat.

“The overriding spirit is they don’t want politicians using wedge issues to try and solidify their hold on office, because that leads to angry communities and finger-pointing workforces and divided shareholders. It makes their job as CEOs harder to manage these constituents. They want social harmony,” Sonnenfeld told NBC News.

The Black Economic Alliance is coordinating a public statement that’s likely to be released this week, said Mike Ward, co-founder of the Civic Alliance, a nonpartisan group that encourages civic participation from businesses.

Ward said he’s helping organizers to follow up with companies on their responses and expects that a number of companies will come out in favor of federal voting legislation in the coming weeks.

House Democrats recently passed a sweeping voting rights bill, the For the People Act, which would create a federal floor of election access and regulations. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has promised it would get a vote in the full Senate, but its chances of passage are slim because of the 60-vote threshold in chamber currently split 50-50.

Democrats are also expected to reintroduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would update and strengthen the Voting Rights Act, this year.

Sonnenfeld said the call’s strong attendance as a “statement of defiance” against Republican pushback to corporate criticism.

“We had the top brass of American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta. If they’re going to boycott airlines, they better have their own jet,” he said.

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Boris told to rip up Brexit deal as Britain waits for EU ratification – 'Pull plug NOW!'



BORIS JOHNSON has been told to “pull the plug” on the post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union as Brussels continues to drag its feet over ratifying the agreement.

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Furious Nicola Sturgeon lashes out at Boris over Indyref2 – 'Can't stand in the way!'



NICOLA Sturgeon has furiously lashed out at Boris Johnson over a second Scottish independence referendum, as she argued the Prime Minister “cannot stand in the way”.

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